A regenerative initiative is taking place in Morocco to restore community resilience and break the cycle of rural exodus.
The Souss-Massa-Draa region of Morocco is a desert frontier. Urban centres and tourist hotspots sit on the coastline, while rural settlements are dotted across sparsely vegetated mountains and river valleys. Not far south is the ever-present threat of the encroaching Sahara.
To develop livelihoods in the region, there has been a focus on boosting the agricultural economy since the 1970s. Government subsidies promote farming on an industrial scale and while this greatly benefits economic development through increased export, these practices have negative consequences on the rural population.
Irrigated water pumped to support the growing agriculture sector has dried up many community wells. This results in water scarcity and has reduced the available productive farmland in some areas by as much as 80%. Meanwhile the expanded market for industrially produced goods marginalises “Beldi” products – like cereals, fruits, vegetables, poultry, oils, honey – which are locally farmed with extensive, traditional and natural methods.
Very quickly rural livelihoods have transformed from traditional agropastoralism to employment within industrial farms. Now, once independent families lack autonomy and have little food sovereignty. Coupled with the degraded state of the landscape, this ultimately leads to young people moving to cities in search of a living.
However, the communities own their land and there is an awareness that this remains a major asset. To restore community resilience and break the cycle of rural exodus, a regenerative pilot project at Tamiat Oufella has begun. Resilliance, a social enterprise, is developing holistic land management that returns value to rural life while strengthening community bonds and restoring the local environment.
Tamait Oufella: community resilience on a desert frontier
20 year vision
Rural communities in Souss-Massa-Draa are resilient and empowered. The self-sufficiency in food production has brought a new dignity to rural life as farmers take pride in their work and train other farmers. The cycle of rural exodus is broken and flourishing rural communities supply urban consumers who are now more aware of the positive impacts that sustainable farming has on society and their country. This, in turn, results in a regenerated and green desert-frontier.
- An enriched, green, beautified and productive landscape offering to younger generations a viable alternative to rural exodus
- Restoration of pride and dignity to community having lost economic autonomy over the past decades
- Communities enjoy a healthy and nutritious diet
- Increased social bonds
- Empower and independent families
- Rural communities flourish
- Permaculture farming leads to carbon capture
- Restored water table
- Creation of jobs in rural areas
- Reduced spending on food
- Financial self-sufficiency of farmers and families
- Permaculture farming regenerative degraded land
- Improved irrigation practices lead to a higher water table
- Extensive grazing takes place with an awareness to not overload the land
- Economic: increased revenue for the farmers means more financial means for education and health
- Local food consumption: local business vs exporting fruit and vegetables (which means exporting water use)
- Developing local businesses
The regenerative development initiative focuses on improved and locally adapted agricultural practices to foster community resilience.
- Pilot project: working with 6 families in Tamait Oufella to establish demonstration plot
- Agricultural land development: supply communities with knowledge and tools for adapted agricultural
- Technological innovation: introduce drip irrigation powered by solar energy
- Value chain development: connect production to restaurants and urban consumers; valorise products and plan production according to demand
- Awareness building: develop understanding of community problems and how to find solutions together
Role of business
- Permaculture products sold to urban communities
- Regeneration of land leads to flourishing rural economy
Achieved so far
- Established 3 ha permaculture to farm vegetable, pulses and cereals
- Developed Market linkage with restaurants in Agadir
- Social bonding has become is reinforced within population who participate in the project